Before continuing, I'd like to preface this by saying, please don't poke fun at the triathlete. I am fragile too you know.
The whole theme of my progression as a triathlete is while even though I've raced for four seasons doesn't mean I know everything and can win my divisions. I love to race, be with other triathletes, and see how far I can really push my mind and body. I love the sprint distance races, and attempt to recruit people everywhere I go* (yes, that includes you Alan and I'm pretty sure I've succeeded).
When I began racing, everything was new, but it was fun! Over the years I've gotten hooked on the gadgets, watches, shoes and clothing.** but there are a few things that I haven't been able to get past, and they've been a big setback for me. Well, this past month has actually be a huge month for me and conquering those fears.
Back to my "progressions." As you know, most triathletes race with a road bike which consists of a less than desirable seated position, a hard saddle seat and thin road tires. Additionally, athletes switch out their running shoes and caged pedals for a clipless pedal and cycling shoes. I use SPD clips and pedals. This makes for an interesting ride as a first-timer, and the general rule of thumb is that you'll fall three times (yes, it's true). Okay, so far we've got road tires, I'm locked into my pedals, and I'm supposed to fall three times while being clipped into the bike. Awesome. Now I have to bike 14 miles without crashing and I must manage to stay hydrated. This transformed me into a cyclist and CamelBak enthusiast.*** Long story short, I was able to conquer the bike segments of each race, but I was tied to my crutch, my beloved CamelBak.
Fast forward to 3 weeks ago (roughly). I had a group workout with Together We Tri and I decided that it's time to grow up and use a water bottle, like normal athletes! I left the CamelBak at home, put the new CamelBak water bottle in my bike cage, and was going to attempt hydration while riding. So I'm doing my thing, riding along, and at mile 3 or so, I stopped pedaling, reached down for the water bottle, drank some, and put it back. WHAT?!?!?! Did I really just conquer this? Is this really what's been keeping me back all these years? You betcha.
I can't even begin to tell you how amazing I felt.**** This is something that's been holding me back for so many seasons and I just proved to myself that I am capable and I moved on. I literally felt a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. The CamelBak took up time, space, and I looked like an idiot after all these years. I used it in my early seasons to be more comfortable, and I'm a huge component of comfort and safety, but it was time to push myself and reach for the freaking water bottle.
And then, this past Tuesday, I was with the group again and we did an easy taper ride along the North Shore area of Chicago. This was an easy, flat and safe course, aka: great conditions to try the Advanced Bottle Reach (ABR - includes bottle reach while continuing to pedal^). I didn't think I'd be able to progress to ABR so quickly, but heck, it was worth a shot. Somewhere on the return, I'm pedaling, and BOOM! ABR was executed! :: insert happy dance here :: Well well, what do you know? And then again, ABR! ABR!^^
At the end of the day, not including my race times, I know that I accomplished so much, even though this is normal operating procedures for many triathletes. Everyone makes their advancements at different paces, and I'm quite happy with mine. This may have been a lot of writing for not a lot of substance, but it's something that I've dealt with for four seasons. I'm looking forward to using these accomplishments this Sunday during the Chicago Triathlon. I'M STOKED!!
Thank you for reading, and remember, no matter the pace of your progress, you're moving forward and that's reason enough to be proud.
I'm no Ironman, but I Still Tri
*If you need any encouragement, I'm your gal. I'll make you wish you were racing this weekend.
** Shh, listen real close. All that crap written in the past about "racing because it's fun" is all a bunch of bologna. The real reason why I race is because of the swag bags, "free" shirts and the opportunity to spend more money at the pre-race expos. Finishers medals are pretty sweet too.
***New flash: riding with a small backpack on ones back does not make one aerodynamic.
****You can stop giggling now.... okay, please stop giggling. I can hear you.
^ Kinda catchy, isn't it?
^^ I musta been butter, because I was on a roll.